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-   -   Project: I Have No Idea What I'm Doing. YJ Stretch (https://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/jeep-non-hardcore/2687600-project-i-have-no-idea-what-im-doing-yj-stretch.html)

Harry Johnson 08-26-2019 10:52 AM

Project: I Have No Idea What I'm Doing. YJ Stretch
About a year ago, I convinced my wife that we needed a jeep in our life again. Hunted around and found this beauty:


1988 YJ
700r4 Tranny
Atlas II 4.3:1
D60 Front
14B rear
lots of holes everywhere
Sketchy wiring

The original goal was to some somehow stretch the wheelbase, slap some 40s on it and go wheeling. But first, I had to convince my wife this was good idea in the first place, so after fixing some of the sketchyness(disc brakes out back, new arb compressor, got it running on all 8 cylindars, etc.) we set off with our 1 year old son and some buddies for the Rubicon.

About 30 minutes into the trail, with loon lake coming back into view and the sun slowly setting in the west(we got a late start ok?), my wife turned to me and exclaimed the following: "THIS WAS THE BEST DECISION EVER!!!!". Boom, vindicated. Two things became aparent:
#1 I had the green light to actually make this jeep thing a line item in our budget.

#2 with the three of us, we were going to need way more space than a little ol YJ tub could provide.

The wife stoked on our new jeep.. also everything but the kitchen sink stuffed on the roof.

That was about a year ago. We wheeled that thing as-is for a while, alternating between family trips and me just beating on the thing to find weaknesses. Some times things went well...

Sometimes bad decisions were made

But I realized that while I still needed more wheelbase, I also needed more tub space for things. I hunted around and found out there's a bunch of people stretching their YJs and CJs to LJ length. Since I had terrible fabrication skills, no expirence with body work or sheet metal, and barely any time on my hands, I decided to do that too.. Makes perect sense right? :flipoff2:

This thread will be my attempt to document the shitshow that follows.

Harry Johnson 08-26-2019 11:02 AM

First thing's first. If I'm going to make my tub longer, I'm gonna need more jeep tub. Found a doner out in nevada. Front was hosed, but I only cared about the rear fenders back.


After consulting The Internet, I found I needed to add 14 7/8" to my existing tub if I wanted to be able to have an LJ soft top fit. Everything about the stretch was focused around because my wife told me no top was a deal-breaker. Fair enough. I did some measuring...


...and some cutting.


Then I took the jeep out for one last hurrah with my little buddy:


Harry Johnson 08-26-2019 11:53 AM

At this point, it was time to take a perfectly good running jeep, take it apart and cut a chunk off. Not sure if I mentioned it previously, but I'm bad at things like cutting sheet metal in a straight line with a cutoff wheel... turns out even worse at cutting a frame square with a sawzall. :rolleyes:

Whatever, this thing was never really pretty and I don't think that's going to change with my efforts. I started stripping everything off.



Notice the funky rear shock mounts. Those worked great for crawling but turned the back into a pogo stick through the desert.

Frame cut off:

Harry Johnson 08-26-2019 11:54 AM

In trying to keep the tub at the exact length I needed, I decided to weld up the tub before stretching the frame. My thinking was I could get that extra 14 7/8" length, and then bolt the back half of the frame on to the new tub. From there all I would have to do is measure the gap to know how long my frame extensions needed to be.

I had never done any type of bodywork before, so once again I consulted The Internet. From what I could tell, I needed to get some .024 wire, and spot weld across the whole thing to avoid heating one particular area and warping the thing metal. So I went for it. It turns out one thing people fail to tell you, is that if you suck at cutting body panels straight, your life is a lot harder when you're trying to fill in gaps between super thin metal. 5 Million tacks, a bunch of burned through sheetmetal and a 50 swear words later and I never wanted to weld body panels again.



Meanwhile, I found that Poison Spyder has some LJ corner armor. Already cut out for an LJ with 4" of stretch and 40s. I bought it, and couldn't help mocking that and my crappy old fender flares(that I actually love, don't judge) up to the tub.

...hmm, not bad.


Speaking of buying stuff, I also tracked down some 14" bypasses to match the travel I had up front. Here they are next to the older kings that were in there:

I hemmed and hawed back and forth on deciding to link or not, but my desire to get back to wheeling and also save some $$$ for a bit led me back to leaf springs for now. After consulting The Internet some more, it looked like chevy 63" springs could potentially bolt right up to my existing leaf spring hangers once the frame was stretched.

Only one way to find out. After cutting the crappy old shock mounts off the rear of my frame, I bolted it back up to the new tub.
Sure enough, it's right around 63" eye to eye from front spring mount to rear shackle. Score one for team lazy. :smokin:

After designing a new frame extension using CAD(Cardboard Aided Drafting), I had something that fit and didn't look terribly ghetto for the driver's side.


So yeah, that's where I'm at now. Progress is pretty slow mainly because I like to travel and I'm a big softie if my kid asks me to play with him instead of work on my jeep. Hopefully, I'll get some time this week to bust out the frame extension on the other side(It's not a mirror image of this one because I suck at cutting things straight with a sawzall). :laughing:

RANGERROD 08-26-2019 12:14 PM

Subscribed! Are you keeping tank in factory location? Nice move on 63 springs. Thanks for posting.

JQMack 08-26-2019 12:39 PM

This should be fun to watch....

getstucksome 08-26-2019 01:18 PM

looking good. Those corners clean it up nicely.

Harry Johnson 08-26-2019 02:16 PM


Originally Posted by RANGERROD (Post 44577670)
Subscribed! Are you keeping tank in factory location? Nice move on 63 springs. Thanks for posting.

Short answer- yep, tank in stock location for now.

Long answer- When I got the thing, it had a 10 gallon rci cell behind the back seat. 10 gallons gas + 6L on rubicon = stress. I then slapped an 18 gal cell from motobilt out back and that was good for a while, but once I started stretching the tub, I realized it was silly to try and add more tub space only to stuff a fuel cell back there again. I found a good price on a genright TJ tank and after looking at every dimension except width(yes, I'm a moron), I surmised it was the same as the YJ tank and brought it home. 10 seconds into trying to bolt it up I realized the TJ tank was a little wider and would hit my leaf shackles. Almost decided to link the rear in a fit of rage, then had a beer, calmed down and now I've got a genright TJ tank and a motobilt fuel cell for sale.:laughing:

I probably need to sack up and just go buy a new genright YJ tank, but I've got a little time still.

the freeak 08-26-2019 02:22 PM

Subscribed. youcandoit! :flipoff2:

YJUnlimited 08-27-2019 03:56 AM

Look at all of us short YJ complex guys starting build threads... Im in!

HankScorpi0 08-27-2019 04:21 AM

How much for the fuel cell? I'm looking to get rid of the stock tank. Thanks

HankScorpi0 08-27-2019 04:22 AM


Originally Posted by HankScorpi0 (Post 44578562)
How much for the fuel cell? I'm looking to get rid of the stock tank. Thanks

Oh and for you stretchers the woman says 100" is fine. :flipoff2:

Harry Johnson 08-27-2019 08:10 AM


Originally Posted by HankScorpi0 (Post 44578566)
Oh and for you stretchers the woman says 100" is fine. :flipoff2:

Once we had a baby she told me it's not long enough any more. :laughing:

HAVO1 09-02-2019 12:21 PM


Harry Johnson 09-18-2019 10:12 AM

Finally got around to cutting out the other frame extension. Family vacation season is over and I think I'm going to my last wedding of the year this weekend, so hopefully things will go faster from here on out.


One thing I've been slacking on is putting a 220 plug in my garage. I have a millermatic 215 and despite what everyone said, it has welded really well plugged into a 110 outlet so far. But now that it's time to put my frame back together and work with some thicker metal, I figured I should get off my ass and do it.

Hoping to have this thing supporting its own weight again soon.

Oh, here's a shot of my sweet CAD setup:

GFY Racing 09-18-2019 12:02 PM

Looks like a badass YJ build. Subbed for more updates.

Harry Johnson 09-30-2019 10:34 AM

Udpate: I still have no idea what I'm doing.

Headed over to the pick-n-pull and grabbed some 63" chevy leafs(that's right, despite my wife's protests, Jetta wagons make good parts getters). Good news is I was right- they will bolt right up as is. Bad news is the axle will be sitting about 5" farther forward than I want.


Plan B is to go back to pick n pull and grab some f150 leaves. If I get the right year, they should be the correct width and instead of the axle being centered 50/50 on the leaves, they are 60/40 so hopefully, that will line them up.

Plan C is to cut the existing brackets off and move everything back 5" with the chevy springs. Upside to that is I'll get to run that TJ genright gas tank that's sitting in my garage because I won't have to worry about hitting the rear hangers anymore.

Plan D will not be spoken of, because my bank account doesn't need any more abuse.

I was sort of depressed that my magical chevy spring solution wasn't going to work without any extra fabbing, so I bought myself some used 40's and sat them next to the jeep to make myself feel better.

ah, much better.

You guys are probably wondering why I'm jimmy jacking around with used tires and junkyard leafs instead of welding up my frame. Valid question. I didn't have a 220v outlet in my garage until Sunday. Slapped one in this weekend: 50 amp breaker, 6 gauge wire, shoot, I even grounded the outlet box. Professional sparkys and armchair quarterbacks, feel free to light me up on this, because as the thread says: I have no Idea What I'm Doing.

gladman 09-30-2019 12:24 PM

go get'em man! :D

Harry Johnson 10-10-2019 07:59 AM

Going slow but at least making progress. Got some time this week to get my extensions prepped and tacked in. I'm ok with a welder, but since my kid is going to be riding in this thing, I phoned a friend to help out with this part.

We're all welded up and now I can finally put my rear axle back under there and make sure the wheelbase is where I want it.



Harry Johnson 10-15-2019 09:21 AM

Government worker, so I had Columbus day off yesterday. Got a hall pass from the wife to spend some time working on the jeep.

I needed to get this thing rolling on wheels so I could move it in and out of the garage when we actually start to get fall/winter weather, so it was full speed ahead to get parts out of the garage and back on the jeep.

First thing's first- I had that LJ corner armor taking up space, and a tub full of holes. Apparently the previous owner's solution to mounting anything was to drill a hole in the tub and run a bolt through it. I started filling in holes and slapping some primer on them:

While I had the paint out, I hit the new section of my frame

Next up was to mount the corner armor and see how if my lazy 63" spring idea is going to put the axle where I want it without moving any hangers. Spoiler alert: it isn't.

Whatever, I needed this thing to roll and I was kinda excited to get it sitting back in the garage, so I threw the axle in there anyways. I'm also leaf spring retarded, so when I found out I could put the centring pin in any of these holes, it blew my mind.

Even with the axle moved back as far as I could, I was still off by 4". Here she is sitting at 103" WB (I want/need 107):

I started at 96"(front was already moved forward a little), so after stretching my frame, and slapping chevy 63s under it, I ended up with an extra 7" of wheelbase. I told this to a buddy of mine who then told me I was doing it wrong. Why? Because without stretching his frame, using the stock front hanger, stuffing Dakota springs under it, and doing one of those weld on the rear bumper spring hanger moves, he got 11" of wheelbase with what I think is a shorter spring. :confused:

I started looking at my setup a little more closely. As I said above, I'm leaf spring retarded. What I didn't notice was that my rear shackle was topped out on the frame.


I'm no leaf spring scientist, but I'm guessing that the shackles not being able to flex would explain why junk feels stiff as shit and doesn't flex well. At this point, I'm thinking maybe motobuilt's YJ stretch rear bumper and shackles might help.

Oh, and then just for fun, here's a rear shot at my attempt to get the rear to flex(It didn't).


RANGERROD 10-15-2019 03:42 PM

Either move the shackle back. Or move front hanger forward. Maybe just tack it for now and wait until you get more weight on everything. Im going to be doing the same to finalize my leaf springs.

92 Green YJ 10-15-2019 08:35 PM

You gotta move the hangers back. That’s what I did on my stretch build. Of course I cut the frame a bit differently. Took the opportunity to upgrade to some beefy Motobilt hangers.

You can see how far back I moved mine here.


the freeak 10-16-2019 12:50 PM

I also vote for move the hangers rearward.

Ruffstuff sells some sweet heavy duty hangers that can be "Frenched" into the frame to make rock strikes slide past.


Harry Johnson 10-17-2019 08:44 AM

I'm guessing the rear shackles bottoming out on the frame are the issue. Pulled the trigger on the Motobilt YJ Stretch Kit to move my rear hangers back 5 or so more inches.


I'm thinking that should fix it. If not, next step is to try and ignore the fact that ruffstuff is having a sale on their link kits and move the front hangers back instead.

gt1guy 10-17-2019 09:45 AM

Hey, ruffstuff is having a sale on their link kits:flipoff2:

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